Jump to content

How much is it about the body?


Flora
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 175
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Thanks Pas de Quatre....hence my question marks!!

 

It's just I thought I Had read that initially that's what the Associate classes were for.... but perhaps over time things have changed and now they (the RBS ones) have become a sort of "insurance policy" in case students at the main vocational school don't carry on or are assessed out as the expression goes.

 

Ah well as in many professions there is a limit as to who can finally make the grade and I'm sure this will always include at least a few different body shapes!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I very rarely post on the forum but occasionally have a little peek to see what is going on.

 

Thank you Primrose for your post....couldn't have said all that better.

 

As a parent of a DD in second year RBS upper school I feel that I just need to clarify that in my daughters year there are many different shapes and sizes.....some are very tall with...yes....long legs and many are much shorter with not so long legs. They all have their special bits that they excell in. Some are brilliant at jumps and turns,some are more suited to slower more lyrical movements. Each has there own charm.....but really all quite unique.

 

The same can be said of the boys as well...different shapes and sizes.

My daughter also auditioned twice for JAs and didn't get offered a place either time. Things change and children progress at different rates. After not being offered a JA place we were delighted when she gained entry into WL. But it has been very tough and gets tougher every year.

Next year she will be in graduate year....and that thought scares the hell out of me. It will be like starting all over again with the audition process only this time for a job.

 

And contrary to what people may think and what the little girl says on the promo video.....the students there do not think they are the best far from it. They are never allowed to have that attitude....they would be brought straight back down to earth believe me.

 

There are ideals for the perfect ballet body but very few students actually have that and if they do...they get snapped up. But believe me RBS is not made up of clones.

I thought RBS picked clones too and never thought my dd would be accepted as has a more muscular shorter legged look than some but in Year 7 at WL there is a huge array of shapes and sizes, so still no clearer as to what they are really looking for!! Kids develop at such different rates and times, certainly at lower age range, I don't think that they do pick particularly on body shape.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder....do we perceive the currently desired physique as aesthetically pleasing because it has some real intrinsic superiority, or is it more that we have been conditioned to view it as thus, because it is what we see? Looking at footage from the past, it strikes me that plenty of great dancers of yesterday would not be considered suitable nowadays, and equally so, I could imagine that many of today's top dancers would get a less than enthusiastic reception if they travelled back in time say 50 or 60 years.What is seen as desirable has definitely changed over the years - I wonder if it will change again in the future? Maybe our DC's children and grandchildren will be yearning for a completely different set of physical attributes of they want to dance?!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a result of a comment about taller dancers on another thread I have had a quick look at both NB and BRB's websites.

 

I can't comment on torso/leg ratio but 25% of the lady dancers in NB are 5'3" or less (i.e. the same or shorter than me).  With BRB the percentage is approximately 22 but may be higher because I have not seen some of the new dancers in street clothes and it can be hard to judge height when you are looking at people on a stage.  Both companies also have male dancers of a variety of heights.

 

I'm not so familiar with RB or ENB but I've just read an interview with Francesca Hayward who is stated as being 5'2".

 

Here's the interview:  http://pointemagazine.com/featured-article/the-natural/

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello... Back again. Just been to see Superman versus Batman.

 

There still seems to be a lot being said about physique.

 

Of course a pleasant body shape is important. At the end of the day ballet is moving art and dancers need to be pleasing to watch.

 

At the age that children (particularly girls) enter ballet school they are fairly bambi like as most have not hit puberty until quite a few years later. As they progress through the school shapes do change, the majority still maintain a nice muscular lean body. But there are those who possibly due to genetics develop a shape that is perhaps more suitable to other dance genres such as contemporary etc.

 

Royal Ballet School do say that they are training students for companies all over the world. And all of those companies are looking for something different. As someone mentioned BRB they do generally take slightly shorter dancers than RB.

 

Therefore when my daughter and her peers are auditioning for jobs next year I would say that it's a good thing that we have variation in body shapes in our year or they'd all be fighting for the same company.

 

Waiting mum. You said your daughter has a more muscular physique....well she probably has a wonderful jump as well as other attributes. You will see over the next five plus years how she and her peers all change shape.

 

There is no guarantee with any of this. And I really don't think that RBS set out to be ruthless but they do have to justify why every single child is there as up to a certain point everyone there is entitled to some government funding.

I loved the RBS promo video and was very proud when I spotted my daughter in it. But did cringe a little when the little girl said about everyone being the best. No offence to her or her parents, she was just being a bit over exuberant.

 

There are amazing dancers at the other schools and RBS do make mistakes in their choices either way. I'm sure they would admit that themselves.

 

I hope there is nothing in my post that has caused any offence because none was meant.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paris Opera Ballet School gives weight and height restrictions for candidates at https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/artists/ballet-school/admission

But it now says "These criteria are only given to be advisory."

 

There's an interesting Polish video with English subtitles from 2007 called "52 per cent" - this being the ratio of leg length to height that the Vaganova academy considered /considers ideal. It follows a candidate through the entrance audition process, including her attempts at home to change this ratio...https://vimeo.com/121017289

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few years ago my dd auditioned for a school of which she was an associate. She didn't get finals, but as an associate we were given feedback. We were told that her thigh to leg ratio was too big and perhaps she should consider other forms of dance. She does have long legs and although we had never noticed it before I could see what they meant. However , her dream of being a ballet dancer has never changed and she decided that what she couldn't change, wouldn't worry her. I must stress, we have only been told that once and she has never used it as a reason if she is unsuccessful in gaining a place on other associate schemes.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few years ago my dd auditioned for a school of which she was an associate. She didn't get finals, but as an associate we were given feedback. We were told that her thigh to leg ratio was too big and perhaps she should consider other forms of dance. She does have long legs and although we had never noticed it before I could see what they meant. However , her dream of being a ballet dancer has never changed and she decided that what she couldn't change, wouldn't worry her. I must stress, we have only been told that once and she has never used it as a reason if she is unsuccessful in gaining a place on other associate schemes.

 

 

Could you explain a bit more what they meant, as I am having trouble visualising exactly what 'thigh to leg ratio' is? Does it mean the thigh is too long proportionately for the lower part of the leg??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry I didn't explain it very well - that was the term used - but yes, her thigh is long in comparison to the lower part of her leg. I have to say she doesn't look out of proportion but as I am not an expert I assume it hinders her ability to have good elevation - which she has always had to work hard at.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, thanks for explaining proudmum. By good elevation are you meaning it affects jumps? It would be interesting if there was an actual reason for it having an effect on something, such as jumps, rather than it just being an aesthetic thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well,the men certainly need some good thigh lengths for jumping!!

I would have thought thigh muscles would be important for jumping!!

 

Perhaps it's a more aesthetic leg look thing ...for females ...when leg extended in arabesque!?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

rather than it just being an aesthetic thing.

 

But ballet is a performing art, where the aesthetics are important! It may be tough to see your children apparently not chosen, but the end point is training an artist for a particular art form, with particular requirements. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is all about the body and the everything else. I've heard it said again and again, 'they have a perfect physique for ballet, just so much easier to work with'. That's life and just the way it is. I prefer to see long limbed light dancers as an audience member, I don't like them too thin with bones sticking out, but on the other hand big isn't right either.

Dancers are athletes, as are runners, gymnasts etc, they all have the right bodies that get them to the top of their game. Top track runners all seem to have long bodies and legs, nimble and powerful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree Kate-N and Tulip. I think we were trying to make the point though that certain things have not been deemed aesthetically necessary in the past and people were wondering how that would affect the fact that some renowned dancers of recent times do not always fit exactly the aesthetic ideals in certain schools at the moment.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's very easy for parents of DCs who are born with 'just the right physique' and 'so easy to work with' bodies to dismiss other body types as not worthy of the art and not worthy of top class training, but:

 

* Would they hold the same opinion if their Dc was talented and incredibly dedicated, but had a slightly more challenging physique, or a long torso, or a short neck? Would they say to their child "I'm sorry, but you don't have long limbs, or the type of physique that we find pleasing to watch so we're not supporting you in this dream anymore"?

 

* Even the best bodies can change with puberty and become thick around the middle, or heavy in the thighs, or develope large busts, equally some children with normally proportioned or shorter legs can then grow much longer in the leg during puberty.

 

* You can have the best physique in the world, but if you don't have the dedication, work ethic, quick mind, mental toughness and stage presence to go with it, you're only half way there.

 

 

My point during this whole discussion has been, let's not discount any talented, dedicated child before 6th Form age, because things change and children develope at different rates and in different ways.

Let's not be despondent when a child isn't accepted into the training programme of one school who has so much choice, they can generally take the children with the 'easy to work with' physiques. We're supposed to be supportive of each other on this forum, but telling parents that there's a perfect physique for a ballerina and inferring that if a child doesn't possess it then it's time to get real is not supportive. This isn't the RoyalBalletcoforum, there are many parents on this forum whose children aren't and never will be associates, or at WL, or US, but those parents should still feel that they have an equal voice here. Their children may well train elsewhere and go on into ballet companies, it has happened and it will happen.

 

Yes, every art or sport has a 'perfect' body shape, but every one of those arts or sports is also made up of success stories from those who chose to fight against being told that they were too small to be a rugby player, or too tall to be a racing driver, or too short to be an NFL player, or too short limbed to be a ballerina. As I've said before, most of our children will not make the cut for many reasons, but whilst chasing the dream, dance brings so much joy and the journey can be just as worthwhile as the end result!

  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing that doesn't entirely make sense to me in this context, speaking as an "outsider" (non-dancer, non-dance-parent etc... just an audience member, and a comparatively inexperienced one at that) is that even in the Royal Ballet Company there is a reasonably wide range of body shapes.  Among the women there are the ones who get cast as Clara/Cygnets/Mirlitons etc, who represent the most "typical" RB body type, but then there are all the roles for which the company always uses taller dancers - Lilac Fairy/Arabian Dance/"Big Swans"/Myrthe etc - and among those taller women of the company there's a pretty diverse range of shapes and heights, even just among those who had RBS WL and/or Upper School training (Olivia Cowley, Claire Calvert, Helen Crawford, Laura McCulloch, Tierney Heap...)

 

Those dancers obviously ARE making it at the highest level, having made it through the RBS selection process at one stage or another.  So it clearly doesn't follow that only those who fit the precise aesthetic that the RBS prefers, end up being accepted there...

Edited by RuthE
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As my daughters wonderful JA teacher said to the girls on day 1, don't look around the room and compare yourself to others. Every dancer and every body is unique- nobody has everything, there is no such thing as the perfect physique! Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.Think about what you HAVE got, appreciate it and work on how best you can use it!

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We're supposed to be supportive of each other on this forum, but telling parents that there's a perfect physique for a ballerina and inferring that if a child doesn't possess it then it's time to get real is not supportive. This isn't the RoyalBalletcoforum, there are many parents on this forum whose children aren't and never will be associates, or at WL, or US, but those parents should still feel that they have an equal voice here. 

 

 

Atacrossroads, I'm puzzled - who has said this here? No-one was talking about the Royal Ballet specifically, until you raised that ballet company. The original post was asking generally about Upper Schools, which I took to mean the move for children at age 16 from after-school local studios, to full-time vocational study.  

 

Vocational schools are that: vocational ie training for the profession. The people running those schools have an ethical duty, as well as their professional &  pedagogical duties, to select the children that they evaluate - from the exercise of extensive knowledge & experience - will have the best chance of thriving in the training, and going on to be competent enough to be employed. 

 

It's not hugely different from what I do in participating in my university's admission process: I interview, watch other kinds of selection activities, confer with colleagues, and offer places to those applicants I believe have the best chance of thriving in our particular programme. But if they're not academically gifted, they won't be offered a place. We try not to be biased, we try not to discriminate needlessly, but  there's a point at which we have to evaluate and select. And we'll select some, and not others.

 

Same with selection to all sorts of things. As a parent, with the experience of one (or maybe more!) children, you will naturally se it differently. But if you're a professional in the business of selecting and evaluating young people for highly sought after training (of any type) you'll see thousands of young people. And you will know who suits your training best & why. It's a very different perspective. 

 

And I'd say as an adult ballet [perpetual] student it is important to keep dancing for the personal enjoyment. And one doesn't need to have been selected for an Associates scheme, or a vocational school, to keep learning, training, and enjoying!

Edited by Kate_N
  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Kate_N,

Our thread was brought over from another thread to this one as we had gone off topic on our original one, so some of my observations were based on what had been said on our previous thread which was far more about physique at JA stage.

 

My whole point was about whether a child is 'gifted' or not, over ideal body shape. Thank goodness you only have the criteria of how academically gifted your applicants are and their personal statements by which to choose. There seems to be so many facets when choosing which dancer to take. Obviously by 6th Form (and I'm saying 6th Form because Upper School refers generally to RBS) level in ballet I would imagine that the selection process becomes easier as the attainment is obvious as well as the physicality, which is perhaps why there are more shapes and sizes in the mix.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Completely agree. Unfortunately, there are too many schools who, while trying to remain viable, pick students who will never work professionally as dancers.

I'd also like to clarify the above quote for those parents out there whose children are accepted into a school deemed one of those referenced above (presumably any other school other than the top two of three classical schools).

 

Firstly these schools do have an uphill climb to remain viable with only around 6-8 MDS government funded places to be given out to applicants per year.

 

Secondly they are far from filled with children who will never work professionally as dancers. The children chosen are very talented and in fact, although only a few will continue on the classical route and into companies, in my daughters class each and every child is talented enough to work professionally as a dancer with the right amount of hard work. Thanks to the breadth of the curriculum, not only do they have 2.5 hours of classical ballet training a day ( from teachers who are ex ballet company members and give fantastic critique), they also have extensive training in modern, contemporary, tap, street jazz, drama and singing, making them perhaps the most employable dancers around! And in the mix you've got the students who gain places at RBS Upper School each year, proving that these schools are totally viable classically too.

Edited by atacrossroads
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi All

I wasn't going to comment on this thread but everyone in one way or another has valid points.

As a mother of a dd with a physique that has been described in her school report as having " beautiful proportions" I know that it's about a hell of a lot more than physical attributes.

Dd has just been unsuccessful in her quest for a place at Elmhurst 6th form ..... Naturally she was upset but she has surprised me by wanting some sort of feedback. I myself am not at all keen for feedback , she has worked hard to overcome her injury and maybe "stiff big toes" are a game changer anyway I digress this thread has given me the idea to do a lot of googeling ( is that even a word) about ballet physique and the body as a whole.

I watched the 52% Vimeo and yes I've measured dd although a 33 inch inside leg she only has a 50 % leg to body ratio.

I also found a very interesting article about how likely it was that a child assessed at age 10 would be ideal for ballet training at a later date, it seems that there are a lot of other factors why some attributes are desirable. For instance a long back is possibly more flexible and less prone to injury . How do you have a short torso yet a long back ?

The article went through everything from the head to the toes and things that I thought would be an advantage are absolutely not , it also went on to describe what could happen to the individual in the long run if they carried on training with say less than the desirable bone structure of the foot . That even a child who did "fill out " would still have the same proportions they did when they were 10.

So looking at my dd through the eyes of this article I can see she has many things that could be "deemed" wrong with her , but she looks nice at times "stunning "and she will continue her quest at least 'til next year .

Everyone deserves a chance to fulfil their dreams but for some it will just not meant to be wether through physique , injury, not as good as the next girl etc etc ......

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

atacrossroads, I hope you don't think I was suggesting that I believed in only the perfect physique for ballet thingy. I was just trying to say, that is what directors for schools and company's are mostly looking for. I'm just a mum and I don't judge other people's children I don't judge my own daughter for that matter. I responded to the title of this discussion, is it all about the body, which I responded by saying that yes it is along with everything else for ballet.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is all about the body and the everything else. I've heard it said again and again, 'they have a perfect physique for ballet, just so much easier to work with'. That's life and just the way it is. I prefer to see long limbed light dancers as an audience member, I don't like them too thin with bones sticking out, but on the other hand big isn't right either.

Dancers are athletes, as are runners, gymnasts etc, they all have the right bodies that get them to the top of their game. Top track runners all seem to have long bodies and legs, nimble and powerful.

 

Hi Tulip, I just found your post a little inaccurate as it isn't ALL about the body, it's about so much more. It's about having the body and making the most of it, but it's also about not having the perfect physique and battling to overcome it as so many have, be it in ballet or sport.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just because a young person may not have the whole thing to make them one of the 1 or 2% that make it from training as a child, into a paid job as a dancer, doesn't mean they can't keep dancing! That has to be what drives anyone, surely? 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did actually say all about the body and everything else. Just recently there was a company audition in Germany, so, so many students auditioned only for them to look more closely at just seven, and I don't know how many were selected after that. Along the years I've heard teachers comment, feet aren't aesthetically nice enough, not perfect shape etc to students. These students are good enough as it turns out, but not necessarily in ballet. So many dancers and so few jobs. Ballet companies have so many dancers to choose and from all around the world.

If any child has a passion for ballet, then of course they should audition. We are only parents, we are not teachers or trained dancers, so mostly we get it wrong. I gave up guessing years ago, but I also tend to roll with it all, the ballet world to me is such a confusing world.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also found a very interesting article about how likely it was that a child assessed at age 10 would be ideal for ballet training at a later date, it seems that there are a lot of other factors why some attributes are desirable. For instance a long back is possibly more flexible and less prone to injury . How do you have a short torso yet a long back ?

The article went through everything from the head to the toes and things that I thought would be an advantage are absolutely not , it also went on to describe what could happen to the individual in the long run if they carried on training with say less than the desirable bone structure of the foot . That even a child who did "fill out " would still have the same proportions they did when they were 10.

 

 

This does sound interesting, are you able to put a link up or reference the title of the article Hairbelles?!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...